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Access to Land and Development

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Access to land, and the conditions under which it happens, play a fundamental role in economic development. This is because the way the modes of access to land and the rules and conditions of access are set, as policy instruments, has the potential of increasing agricultural output and aggregate income growth, helping reduce poverty and inequality, improving environmental sustainability, and providing the basis for effective governance and securing peace. This potential role is, however, difficult to capture, and there are many cases of failure. History is indeed replete with serious conflicts over access to land and with instances of wasteful use of the land, both privately and socially. Governments and development agencies have for this reason had to deal with the ‘land question’ as an important item on their agendas (de Janvry et al., 2002). We explain in this article: (a) why access to land, and the conditions under which it is accessed and used, are important for economic development, (b) how different types of property rights can affect access and use, (c) the different modes of access, and in particular the role of land markets, and (d) some of the policy implications, in order to show how access to and use of the land can contribute to economic development.

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© 2008 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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De Janvry, A., Sadoulet, E. (2008). Access to Land and Development. In: Durlauf, S.N., Blume, L.E. (eds) The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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